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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

MPP Leardi, Standing Committee on Finance visit area regarding “Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act”

by Sylene Argent

Last week, members of the Provincial members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs joined Essex MPP Anthony Leardi on a tour around the Essex Riding to hear from representatives from the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, the Egg Farmers of Ontario, and Ontario Pork regarding Bill 46, “Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act, 2023.”

This potential Act has passed its first and second readings at Queen’s Park. It is now being discussed at the committee-level. If passed there, it can return back to Queen’s Park for its third and final reading. That would likely be between February and June of this year.

This piece of legislation, if passed, will make some changes to the Animal Health Act. Right now, Leardi explained, if there is a disease outbreak on a farm, “We have to jump through certain hoops before we can do anything about it.”

The Act would give the Minister of Agriculture the authority to issue a temporary 72-hour emergency order, if given the proper advice from the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario. This could include quarantining a farm to prevent the spread of disease.

“Because disease spreads so fast, we needed something that would allow the Minister to issue an order right away,” Leardi explained, adding the province does not want to be prejudicial against a farm or a famer who is taking steps to control or eradicate disease. “We want to be fair. If the farm is in fact taking steps and has those measures in place in 72-hours, then the Minister can back off.”

He explained the most typical order would be to not remove any animals from the farm, and to not bring anymore in.

Often in agricultural operations, Leardi explained, personal protective equipment is used, such as disposable gowns, so microbes are not transferred from one barn to another.

Leardi said the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, the Egg Farmers of Ontario, and Ontario Pork, “Are solidly in favour” of the piece of legislation.

He said that is because Ontario’s food is number one in the world when it comes to quality and safety. “We don’t want to dilute that value of the brand. We want to make sure our brand stays number one in the world.”

“We are really happy that the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, the Egg Farmers of Ontario, and Ontario Pork were solidly in favour of the legislation and we want to keep Ontario food number one in the world,” he said.

So far, no amendments have been recommended to the Bill, he added.

In addition, Leardi said he is excited about the recent announcement of the “As of Right” rule, which would automatically recognize the credentials of health care professionals across Canada. If that legislation passes, it would allow health care workers who earned their qualifications in a different province or territory, in Canada, to be automatically recognized in Ontario.

“If it passes, it will be a really great thing for Ontario,” he said.

According to Ontario Newsroom, the government will introduce the legislative changes in February 2023. These changes will help health care workers overcome bureaucratic delays that have made it difficult to practice in Ontario.

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